Dear Friends,

I’ve turned 62, though I feel like a kid most days. It’s hard not to notice that young people are leading the charge to protect the earth’s climate, and I’m trying to stay right with them. Here on the farm we are practicing regenerative agriculture. One of my learnings from years farming is that farming well, and then merging with the industrial food system, will not bring the environmental change we need.

To see how I got here, we’ve got to flash back to 1983.

My foray into lean beef raised without antibiotics or growth hormones was part preparation and part chance. The preparation was knowing the research of Dr. Stuart Levy, who suggested feeding antibiotics to animals would lead to resistant strains and, thus, was a public health concern.

The chance part of starting Laura’s Lean Beef had to do with being told I was a “Cowbelle,” and getting kicked off the bus at the National Cattlemen’s Association meeting in Denver in 1983. More on that story here.

Laura Freeman, cattle convention

Just barely in maternity clothes, I was a “cow belle,” and lucky it was!

Function In Disaster

My life’s turning point (at least so far) came when I had a serious horseback riding accident that left me with nagging, chronic full-body pain. I sold the beef company, retired and moved. My daughter was running the farm and in 2015 started raising hemp in Kentucky’s innovative program. Still recovering and a farmer at heart, I visited several times a year, attending some of the hemp meetings around the state.

It was at one of these meetings I learned about CBD from hemp, but the first product I tried, a CBD isolate, didn’t work. So, I wrote off CBD, focusing on hemp for grain and dark chocolate for healthy candy. Later that year, a fellow hemp producer told me about full-spectrum CBD and suggested a dosage, while another person forwarded me the National Institute of Health patent on CBD.

I tried CBD again, and it worked! My full-body pain from the horseback riding accident vanished, and my osteoarthritis was much improved. I knew Mt. Folly needed to grow this, and so we did.

Laura Freeman in hospital following horseback riding accident; Laura playing tennis following recovery with help from Homestead Alternatives full spectrum CBD oil.

The horseback riding accident almost did me in. It took me years to recover. With help from CBD, I can enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s on the courts or in the fields.

Finish In Style

Getting well gave me the gumption to start my last project: addressing climate change by developing a sustainable climate system.

Here is how it works:

1) We farm organically (which makes for superior CBD), and we farm regeneratively to to sequester carbon through year-round photosynthesis on crop land, building soil humus and stabilizing organic matter in crop soils. We rotate our cow herd through small, separate pastures, mimicking buffalo herds. We leave delicate timberland alone.

These practices can sequester large amounts of carbon, at low cost.  Once we are confident that the practices are practical for other farmers, and have a good measurement of the carbon sequestered, I will promote this solution with everything I’ve got.

2) We are part of our regional economy, which, with reduced transportation and energy costs, along with good jobs, is part of the solution. Sequestering carbon on the farm, then attaching the farm to the industrial food system, won’t work. The farm is a fraction of the problem, and we seek to solve the whole. Laura’s Mercantile is a job creator, and we hire locally, from east Kentucky counties when possible.

We have restored a building in our bypassed small town of Winchester, turning it into Wildcat Willy’s Distillery and Farm-to-Table Restaurant. We are developing The Moonshine Trail for progress in east Kentucky and are midstream in refurbishing an 1880 building for the new Mercantile offices and two apartments.

3) We are active in building a community of learners. My husband thinks this means I work all the time and attend too many meetings, but it is more than that. Here in Kentucky, in one of the toughest regions in which to address the climate crisis, we are finding solutions. We want to tell our story, warts and all.

Laura Freeman standing in organic hemp field holding Homestead Alternatives Full Spectrum CBD Oil and Caramels.

Every obstacle, every solution, brings more questions. We need a community to develop a system which works to solve the climate crisis while working for our community.

Whether you are a customer, a visitor, a correspondent, or a friend — and I hope all four! — thank you for your interest in this story. Please join us. We are succeeding because we are Hemp Powered!

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